Last night wasn’t too bad. I slept really well and wondered if all the carbs and calories helped? (I certainly ate far more of each than I usually do). Or maybe it was drinking less caffeine? I cant say I am very excited about more rice and dahl for dinner but I’m not hungry and the porridge went down well (though we are going to run out of milk soon) – we are actually eating bigger portions than usual to fill us up. I can’t say this is a healthy diet and not one I would recommend for anyone for more than a few days… and really, its only nice because I have a drawer of spices (which is not in the budget, so I’m cheating). I imagine, without this, dinner would be pretty horrible. This must be what our families foodbank users have to live with – eating whatever is available or whatever they are given – and it is a sobering thought.
I told some colleagues at work about this and everyone was really supportive – we talked about how to make food cheaper and I realise how tough/impossible this is… some collective thoughts:
“vegetables are really cheap” I worked out that a veggie curry (vegetables and chickpeas) would cost me about £4.20 to make (with rice) but that thiswould only last us for 2 meals (with me having left overs for lunch) and that has taken up over 40% of my budget…so actually, vegetables are NOT cheap and this only provided food for 2 days, with no breakfast (and no lunch for my daughter). So – it might be a healthy option – but it is not a cheap one.
“you can get some great bargains if you shop around” – this is indeed true but how can you shop around if you don’t have the bus fare or petrol money? Also, many of our foodbank users work, so how can they find the time, never mind the energy and the extra travel cost?
“buying in bulk makes things cheaper” – yes it does, but you can only do this if you have money to start with – and bulk buying is not possible with only £10. And many families end up making tough choices, like feeding their children and not themselves. Pre lockdown, I often stopped to talk to a homeless man in town and he told me he ALWAYS fed his dog before he fed himself (the dog always looked better than him).
The highlight of my day was eating the cupcake my daughters friend gave us yesterday, with a cup of tea, when I got in from work – I think I ate it in 5 seconds flat…. It wasn’t just because the cake was so nice, but because someone had made such a kind gesture.
No pictures the food look exactly the same except there is less cabbage…
During the pandemic, lots of the foodbank’s donors have asked how they can help in different ways and one ‘extra’ thing the charity has done specifically is to accept fresh donations, in a limited way so as not to waste anything that ‘turns’ and taking into account the heat in the warehouse (usually either freezing or baking!), so just from a few select donors who are known when they will come and what they will bring. Norwich foodbank now receives regular donations of bread from Bread Source, eggs from a local farmer and fresh fruit and veg (potatoes, carrots, onions, apples, cabbage / sprouts) from the Norwich Christadelphians. Not only does this provide at least one more meal alongside the 3-day food parcel, but also some healthy options and an encouragement to cook, which many of those who receive the help say they miss as it feels like a luxury.
As part of the Trussell Trust, Norwich foodbank uses a specific picking list for each food parcel – single, couple, family, etc – and these lists are made in conjunction with a nutritionist to ensure that the 3-days supply of food is nutritionally balanced. While all the items are tins, jars and packets, tinned vegetables and fruit are included but fresh pieces to complement what is given is such a joy.